Who has the best playing field for tax competition: the United States or the European Union?

By Sarah Guillou

Two recent events demonstrate the differences in the American and European views on tax competition. First was the case of Boeing, which the European Union (EU) has brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU is challenging the tax incentives offered by the State of Washington to the American aircraft maker. Then there is the European Commission’s investigation of Luxembourg’s tax provisions that benefit Amazon, the Internet retailer. Boeing and Amazon both make massive use of tax competition. While this is widespread and accepted in the United States, it is being increasingly questioned in the EU, and even excluded by law if it is classified as illegal State aid. Continue reading “Who has the best playing field for tax competition: the United States or the European Union?”

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Regulating the financial activities of Europe’s banks: a fourth pillar for the banking union

By Céline Antonin, Henri Sterdyniak and Vincent Touzé

At the impetus of EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, on 29 January 2014 the European Commission proposed new regulations aimed at limiting and regulating the commercial activities of banks “of systemic importance”, that is to say, the infamous “too big to fail” (TBTF). Continue reading “Regulating the financial activities of Europe’s banks: a fourth pillar for the banking union”

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The law on the separation of banking activities: political symbol or new economic paradigm?

By Céline Antonin and Vincent Touzé

Imprudence, moral hazard and systemic gridlock were key words for the banking crisis. Governments that were unhappy to have had no choice but to come to the rescue of the banks are now trying to regain control and impose new regulations. The regulations with the highest profile concern the separation of trading activities (trading on own account or for third parties) from other banking activities (deposits, loans, strategic and financial consulting, etc.). These are expected to have the advantage of creating a tighter barrier between activities, with the idea that this could protect investors if bank operations go badly on the financial markets. On 19 February 2013, the French Parliament passed a law on the separation of banking activities. Although the initial targets were ambitious, the separation is only partial, as only proprietary financial activities will be spun off. As these cover less than 1% of bank revenues, this measure tends to be symbolic. However, by giving legal force to the principle of separation, the State is demonstrating its willingness to take a more active role in supervision. Continue reading “The law on the separation of banking activities: political symbol or new economic paradigm?”

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